Giving Thanks (Updated)

When I worked on the radio, we would often “recycle” bits. We would take something we had done in the past and “re-run” it, often updating it to be current. This blog is actually a recycling of an earlier Thanksgiving blog from three years ago, updated for 2022. I have gained many new followers over the past few years, all of this will be new to them. For those who have been with me from the beginning, I hope you don’t think I am being lazy. By recycling this, I am reminded of just how blessed I am!

Updated 2022

The blatant truth is that we should be thankful for everything in our lives. One of my favorite Bible verses is I Thessalonians 5: 18 which reads “In everything give thanks”. That means good things and bad things – and that’s sometimes hard to do! Believe me, I know from experience! Well, here goes…my list, in no particular order:

Things I am thankful for

My parents. Let’s face it, without them, I wouldn’t be here. I was blessed with a mother and father who raised me right. They supported decisions (good and bad) and were always there for me. Even though my mom is no longer here, her presence is ever-present. Dad is always around to talk music, old movies, and more. As with most holidays, he will be the first call I receive this morning. Laughing with him is always something I am thankful for. The kids always look forward to their Sunday morning video chat with Papa, too!

My wife. Without her, I wouldn’t be here either. She saved me and I am forever grateful. She came into my life at a very turbulent time – first as a friend, and then as someone much more than that. She made me smile and laugh during a time where there was little or no happiness. She cried with me and was a great support through very dark days. Thanks to her, I have found an unconditional love. I cannot imagine life without her, nor would I want to. She accepts me with all my faults and quirks. She makes me feel special. She makes me fall in love with her more each day. She completes me and I am thankful to have her in my life each and every second of the day.

We’ve experienced many changes over the last couple years. With the addition of our two kids, life is a bit more stressful and we’re a bit more tired. The “us” time has been lacking a lot. I need to make it a point to make more “us” time. I need to make sure that I don’t let all of the stresses in life make me forget how important she is to me. I need to step up – listen, love, and support her in ways that she truly needs.

My daughter, Ella. When I originally wrote this blog, she wasn’t even born yet. What a joy Ella is to have around. Her personality shines through now. It has been fun to watch her blossom into a toddler. She is so smart. Her imagination flourishes. I love sitting on the family room floor and “playing princesses” with her. I love watching Bubble Guppies with her. I could listen to her sing the songs from Frozen all day. She will forever have me wrapped around her finger! I’m so thankful for my princess.

My son, Andrew. He is the busiest baby I have ever had! Wow, do I wish I had his energy! Talk about a one track mind! He is forever grabbing for cell phones, TV remotes, and whatever toy Ella has. He was walking early and he hasn’t stopped. Now he is climbing all over the place. It is funny to see the relationship that he has with Ella. They truly love each other, but at the same time, they love to aggravate each other, too. It is rare to see him without a smile on his face. He’s a handful, but I wouldn’t change him for the world!

My sons, Dante’ and Dimitri. They could not be more different from each other. They both have their own talents. They remind me so much of my brother and I when we were growing up! They are creative. They are silly. They are loving. They are smart. They make me laugh and drive me crazy! I miss them when they are not with me and I love when we are together. I love to think back and remember the things they did as babies and I love to think about what they will do in the future. They make me proud of all their accomplishments. It is crazy to see how much they have grown. Dante’ is working hard and going to college, and Dimitri is in high school. I’m thankful for both of them.

My brother. Just like my sons, we couldn’t be more different. Growing up, we tormented each other! He has listened to me complain about life. He has offered advice on more than one occasion. He, in my opinion, is the more successful of the two of us! He has written – and published – books! He has made his way up the ladder at his job and is now a “big wig”. I am envious of him. Over the years, we’ve grown closer and are working separately (and together) on a project that will honor our mother. This project will only bring us closer – which I look forward to very much. Some of the stuff I have written for the project has been posted on this blog. There is still work to do, and it is slowly coming together. We really need to get together and see where we are at with things.

He has been an absolutely amazing Uncle to the kids. Ella just might have him wrapped around her finger, too. There always seems to be some package arriving for her or Andrew with Disney loot in it! Despite the miles, they kids love being able to video chat with him when they can.

My job. It’s really an amazing thing to help people. So many patients come in to our lab who are struggling with poor sleep, insomnia, apnea, narcolepsy, and other sleep disorders. To be able to offer advice, help them get therapy, and in some cases, save their life, it is pretty satisfying. I am lucky to have some pretty cool co-worker friends, too.

My education. For years, my mother begged me to go to college. She had sadly passed away before I finally enrolled in classes. I am grateful to have had some of the finest instructors and professors to guide me and teach me in my journey. Not only did I gain a degree, but I made many new friendships with classmates and teachers. I still hope to one day further my education.

My friends. Napoleon Hill said, “That man is rich indeed who had more friends than enemies…” I am truly a rich man! I am lucky enough to have made many friends throughout my life. Many of them I have known for over 40 years! So many good times! So many good memories! I am thankful for each of them!

My enemies. Yes, my enemies. First of all, they make me more appreciative and thankful for my friends! Second, they actually help me, too. How? Here is a great quote (I wish I knew who said it) “Your enemies evolve you at the core. They force you to defend and endure more than you thought possible.” Yes, my enemies may be full of hatred toward me. They may spread rumors about me. They may discredit me and bash me, but I am stronger because of their ignorance and loathing. Over the last few years, I have gained lots of strength!

My faith. It may not be important to you, but it is to me. I am thankful for God, His Word, His Son, and all that He has done for me. I am thankful for His unconditional love for me. No matter how many times I mess up, He is still there for me – loving me. That just amazes me.

Modern Medicine. We are blessed to live in a time where medical advances are curing diseases and saving lives! While there is a long way to go, and there are still many diseases that need a cure – we continue to make progress. I am thankful for the great minds who strive to find the answers, treatments, and cures. I hope to see cures for things like cancer in my lifetime.

Coffee. I was 12 when my grandpa introduced coffee to me (it was probably more cream and sugar than coffee, but I liked it.) Coffee has helped me through many overnight shifts on the radio, many 12 hour shifts in the sleep lab, and is just perfect to drink on a chilly autumn morning. I am also thankful for some of the wonderful flavors.

My country. I am thankful to live in the United States of America. I am thankful that we live in a country that allows us many freedoms. While I have not visited every state in the union, I can tell you that on a recent road trip, I was in awe of the beauty that I witnessed while driving. I am thankful and proud to be an American!

Cameras/Photographs/Videos. How many precious moments and memories have been captured by cameras? Without cameras how many things would be forgotten? Think about all of the historical pictures that have meant so much over the years. Now think about how looking at old family photos can immediately place you back in that exact moment with loved ones! Think about how awesome it is to watch an old home movie and hear the voices of loved ones who are no longer here. I am SO thankful for the memories that have been preserved for me on film.

I sometimes look like the crazy dad. I seem to always be taking pictures of the kids, but I do that because I want to remember these times. I don’t ever want them not to have pictures of themselves or their relatives.

Dreams and the ability to dream. I am thankful that every now and then, I will have a dream where I am once again talking with my mom or my grandparents. In the original blog, I mentioned that in my Facebook Memories for that day I mentioned a dream I had where I was hanging out with Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin – only in dreams!! The morning of the baby shower, I dreamed about my mom. Dreams are really interesting things!

My Past. Sometimes looking back at the past can be painful. Hindsight is 20/20, right? It’s always easy to look back and see the mistakes you have made and kick yourself for making them. I look at it another way – I am who I am today because of my past. The things that have happened to me along the way – both good and bad – are a part of who I am and have played a role in who I am today. Yes, I can look back and see people or events that disgust me, but without them – I’d be a very different person.

Air Conditioning/Heat. As someone who loves to go to museums and such, I always wondered how people got along without AC in the summertime or heat in the winter! I can’t imagine having to wake up in the middle of the night to add more wood to the fire or wood stove. I also can’t imagine working 8 hours a day in a place without AC! I am very thankful for those two modern-day conveniences!

Sunrises and Sunsets. One of my guilty pleasures is sitting and watching the sun come up or go down. When I lived on the west side of the state (Michigan), I was lucky enough to live right off the water. I would often go to the beach and just watch the sun set over the lake. It was majestic and beautiful! I am so thankful for these two simple things. Today, with my schedule, I tend to see more sunrises than sunsets.

Laughter/Humor. I love to laugh and I love the sound of laughter! I also love to make people laugh. I am so thankful for things that are funny and things that make me laugh. Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” Milton Berle said, “Laughter is an instant vacation.” Another great quote is “Life is short. Spend it with people who make you laugh and feel loved.”

Music. I am thankful for music in SO many ways. Music, is one of those things that can evoke all kinds of emotions. A song, just like an old photograph, can take you back in time. In radio, we used to play what we called “Oh Wow” songs. Those songs that make you say, “Oh wow! I haven’t heard that in forever!” or “Oh wow! That reminds me of my senior prom!” Music is one of life’s great things! It can convey things with or without words. One of my favorite quotes, which is attributed to Hans Christian Anderson, is “Where words fail – music speaks.” SO True! I am thankful for some of the many music blogs I follow. They often remind me of some of those “Oh wow” songs!

The Kindness of Strangers. I have benefited from the kindness of strangers more times than I can count. We saw a brief surge of random acts of kindness when the movie “Pay It Forward” came out, and it is a shame that those acts have fizzled out. The world would be a better place if we took a moment and thought of others. There have been plenty of times where someone in front of me has bought my coffee at the drive-thru window, and I have returned the favor. I remember one time seeing an elderly gentleman eating alone in a restaurant. He never knew who I was, but I saw his World War II Veteran hat. I bought his meal and told the waitress to tell him that I thank him for his service. Random acts of kindness are not just something we can accept – they are something we can do.

Those who have served in the Armed Forces. We live in a free country because of the men and women who have served in the various branches of the military. I am thankful to each and every one of them. I know that our freedom came with a price and so many men and women paid the ultimate price for me – and you. Those that have served, no matter what branch and no matter if you were in battle or not, you are a hero! I am thankful for you and your service! I have friends and family who all served, and I am thankful for these heroes!

The Changing Seasons. Here in Michigan, I get to see them all! Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. The first snowfall is beautiful. Ice storms can be hell! Springtime showers and the grass turning green is a reminder of things becoming new again. Summertime is never long enough, but getting the chance to swim at the pool, golfing, and the smell of fresh-cut grass can always make me smile. Fall is my favorite season! This year we got hit with some early snow, so the joke is that Fall was the best “three days of the year”! The crisp cool air of autumn is perfect for bonfires. I’m sad to admit that we didn’t get to have any bonfires this year. The leaves changing colors makes for some spectacular rides on the highway. At any rate, I am thankful to get to experience each one of the seasons.

Spell Checker. Without this, I really don’t know what I would do! I remember all those spelling tests from school! The problem is, as I get older, I seem to have forgotten how to spell. Spell Check is one of those great features that got me through many a research paper in college. It can also be very helpful here in my blog. Of course, sometimes, you can misspell a word that is the correct spelling of another word, so it isn’t foolproof. I’m thankful for it anyway!

The often overlooked necessities. I could easily make these each an item on this list. I guess these are often things that are taken for granted. For example, my home. I am thankful to have a roof over my head to protect me from the elements. I am thankful for the clothes that I wear. I am thankful for fresh water and hot showers. Those two go together and, while it is often taken for granted, there are those who do not enjoy those simple things. I am thankful for electricity. While there are times I think it is cool to sit and read a book by candlelight because of a power outage, I’d rather have the light – and everything else that uses it. I am thankful for a good meal. Sometimes that meal may consist of a simple bowl of cereal, but the fact that I have food to eat is something that some people don’t have.

Bad Days. As much as we’d rather not have them, it is important to remember that when we have them, they remind us of just how awesome the good days are! I am thankful for bad days, but even more thankful for the good ones! I am also thankful that in the big picture – I have had more good ones than bad ones.

The Internet. It’s funny how we lived so long without it, yet we can’t really live without it today! I mean, without it, you wouldn’t be reading this! I am thankful for it and the good things associated with it. I am thankful to be able to connect with family and friends across the miles with social media. I am thankful that at any moment, I can open up Google and find an answer to a silly question. I am thankful that my kids and I can use it instead of encyclopedias to do research. So many things are at our fingertips because of the internet.

A good book/movie/TV show. I really enjoy being able to get lost in a good story. I love to read, but sadly don’t really get the time to do it as often as I’d like to. Same with a good movie. With movies, there are very few new movies that appeal to me. As most of you know, I prefer older films (you know, the ones that are so good some jerk in Hollywood decides to remake it and ruin it). I don’t need to see 20 minute sex scenes, car chases that are impossible to believe, blood and gore, or violence. I want a good story – and a good story is something that Hollywood has seemed to run out of. When it comes to TV, I rarely watch new shows. Most of them are “reality” based anyway and just garbage. I guess that’s why I am thankful for TV shows on DVD. Ok, last year, I kinda dissed on reality TV, and I should clarify that I mean talent shows, dance shows, and shows with singers in masks. To me, these are just a waste of my time.

My cat. There is no doubt that she is truly my cat. I know she doesn’t bug Sam like she does me. She takes every opportunity to come up by me when I am on the couch, a chair, or in bed. If they kids go to bed and I play my golf game, she is right next to me. She loves for me to pet her. As annoying as she can be, I really love her.

The five senses. I can’t imagine going through life not being able to see my children or my wife or some of the wonderful things I have already described. I can’t imagine not being able to smell fresh coffee brewing or my spaghetti sauce on the stove. I can’t imagine not hearing the sound of my children laughing. I can’t imagine not being able to taste a juicy steak. I can’t imagine not being able to feel a hug from my wife. I am SO thankful to have the ability to have all five senses!

Forgiveness. I am thankful for forgiveness. Sadly, it is one of those things that is rare today. It is, however, one of the great things taught in the Bible and throughout history. It is also one of the hardest things to do. I have trouble with it too on occasion. I am thankful that there are friends and family who have forgiven me for past transgressions.

Acceptance. I am thankful for those people in my life who accept me for who I am. They don’t try to change me. There may be things about me that they don’t like or agree with, but they love and accept me as I am. I try to do the same for others.

Encouragement. I would not be where am I today without the encouragement and support of others. It may have been the smallest gesture or a simple sentence in conversation, but the encouragement of others helped me to get through some tough stuff and I am thankful for that.

Change. This is hard for me to be thankful for, but I am. I have to be honest, I hate change! I am a creature of habit. When I lost 85 pounds, I did it primarily by eating the same meals every day. I do not like change, but I know it is important. There were many times over the last couple years that I had to step out of my comfort zone and accept it. I am thankful I did. Change is good – most of the time.

My Therapist. She, like many others, helped me to cope as life offered many challenges. She helped me sort out some feelings. She helped me to see things that I was completely unaware of. She helped me deal with the things involved in my divorce. She also is responsible for my blogs. I used to blog all the time, but was basically told that “no one wants to read that stuff”. I stopped writing. My therapist is the one who suggested keeping a journal. When I told her I used to blog, she asked why I stopped. When I told her why, she suggested starting back up. I told her I didn’t know what to write about. She basically said, “Write about whatever you want! It doesn’t matter if you are writing for others or writing for yourself. If you like to write – WRITE!” From the length of this blog – you can see that I like to write.

Facebook memories. This is a two-edged sword. It is a daily reminder or good things from the past, as well as times with people no longer in my life. I am thankful for it just the same. Many times it is a simple one liner I posted as a status, while other times it is my thoughts about my boys school events. Some pictures bring back good memories, while others bring back sad memories. I smile at the good ones and try to forget the bad ones, but again remind myself that I am who I am today because of the past.

I once believed that it was ok to let some of those memories pop up every year. However, now, I have found it is better to delete some of the past photos with people from the past. If my kids are in those photos, I leave them, but I have deleted quite a few pictures and posts that mention certain people. Why should I let that crap remind me of when I was miserable.

Pumpkin Pie with Cool Whip. Ok, so I finally had dessert while I was writing this. I love a good piece of pumpkin pie topped with Cool Whip.

YOU. Yep. I am thankful for YOU. You are reading this and I appreciate it. I am thankful for my followers and for those who read my stuff. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for following this blog.

What are YOU thankful for??

Zoo Boo ’22

Yesterday was the perfect fall day, although chilly. We have a membership to the Children’s Zoo and knew that around Halloween they did Zoo Boo. Originally, we had planned to take the kids up one weekend. However, with all that’s gone on in the past week, and with the colder temperatures, Sam suggested just taking Ella for some one-on-one time. It was going to be too cold for me to take Andrew.

I packed up the stroller and put it in the car. Packed a bag for her and I, and we took the short trip up I 75 to the zoo. The colder temperatures kept some of the animals indoors and not out on exhibit, but that didn’t seem to matter. The zoo was bustling with all kinds of parents and children- some in costume and some not.

All along the walkways of the zoo are little areas that people can decorate for various seasons and such. There were so many wonderful little Halloween displays. There were many pumpkins, ghosts, mums, sunflowers, all dressed up in Fall colors.

When we walked in, Ella was handed a trick or treat bag for a lot of the various stops and games throughout the zoo that day. We were only a few feet into the zoo and she heard the trains whistle and took off because she wanted to go and ride the train.

The train was already out riding along the tracks, and the line for the next train ride had already started to form. Very close to the train depot was a little traveling coffee truck. I decided to go over and get a coffee to warm me up, and Ella asked for some lemonade.

After our train ride, LOL wanted to go and play on the little playground. She wanted to go down the slide, and wanted me to as well! I joked and said that I didn’t think that my butt would fit on the slide. (Earlier last week we had stopped at a park, and Sam got on a swing and Ella had told her she was proud that her butt fit into the swing!) When I slid down she was at the bottom of the slide to greet me saying, “Yay, daddy! Your butt fitted the slide!” Then she asked to go down again!!

After visiting the prairie dogs, the otters, the wolves, and the alligator, Ella wanted to ride the carousel. She was talking about in on the ride there. She was going to ride on the bunny (there are actually 2 of them, thank goodness). As soon as the opened the gate for us to get on the ride, she was looking for the bunny. No other kid was on it yet, so she claimed it for her ow.

After riding the carousel twice, she asked to go home. On my way out, she said, “I wanna see the animals again.” Thankfully, we hadn’t walked out yet. We walked back through and she played a few games that were set up along the way and in one of the tents. She won some stuffed pumpkin looking guy and a lamb, which she loves.

After walking through again, I was glad she didn’t fight me when I said it was time to go home and warm up. As we walked outside, we once again passed by two bear sculptures that were donated to the zoo. They are pretty awesome. The won awards at ArtPrize. You can read about them here:

https://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw-bay-city/2022/10/1000-pound-artprize-bear-sculptures-donated-to-saginaw-childrens-zoo.html

Ella wanted to stand by the big brown bear and she started roaring like a bear! It was so cute!

There has been so much going on in our lives that getting away for a bit to share some fun with Ella was nice. I missed having the rest of the family there, though.

I hope to get the whole family out together for an outing before fall gives way to winter.

It only took like 26 different pictures to get one where we were both looking at the camera!

Time To Play

I know very few adults who wake up and jump out of bed with a ton of energy. Personally, I get up and need a cup of coffee in order to get the day going. My daughter, however, always seems to be up and ready for the day as soon as she gets out of bed. She’ll run out to the front room, go to her toy box and say, “Daddy/Mommy, do you wanna sit on floor with me and play Little People!?”

Back in January, I recounted my almost injury with Little People. You can refresh your memory here:

She will always ask to play when she first gets up, and while she will always ask to play with the “Little People,” any toy comes into play. This morning was no exception. My brother sent Ella a “Frozen” bath toy set and despite the fact that they are like 3 or 4 times bigger than the little people, they all interact with each other.

As this picture uploaded, I laughed out loud. At the bottom of the picture – Olaf, Elsa, Anna, and Sven from Frozen. Above that, you have Batman and Robin Little People mixed in with Little People from Little Mermaid, Rainforest Animals, and Barnyard mixed together with various toys from Happy Meals and random Disney characters.

You can only imagine the conversations that happen between the various characters. These conversations get finnier depending on who is playing each character. Today, Ella grabbed the big Anna from Frozen and said, “Do you want to build a snowman?” (a song from the movie) and Batman (me) replied, “I’d love to but the Joker is on the loose in Gotham City!” Ella usually looks at me dumbfounded and eventually tells me what I need to say!

Look again at the picture. You see the Bath Toy Olaf (snowman) and the Little People Olaf? Yeah, that’s what Ella calls “Mommy Olaf and Baby Olaf!” It doesn’t matter that Olaf is a snowMAN, it’s a mommy and baby! As a dad, I just roll with it and often find that this play time brings me tons of laughs.

Sometimes I think that adults should have their own toy box loaded with action figures, Matchbox cars, and things like that. Every day, for an hour or so, adults should get lost in pretend play and forget the troubles of the world. How would this be different that imagining that you are relaxing in a hammock on a tropical island somewhere?

Maybe I’m crazy, but I’d be the first to vote for the politician who mandated play time for adults! Bring on Go Carts, Dodge Ball, Mini Golf, and Laser tag!! The world needs a whole lot more fun.

Hardly Prepared For The Real World

I have made it no secret that Math (Algebra in particular) is NOT my best subject. I did poorly in my high school algebra classes. Yes, I did pass the college Algebra classes I had to take, but it was harder than I could have imagined. It didn’t help that I hadn’t looked at an algebra problem in almost 30 years.

Luckily, my oldest son only needed my help a few times with his math stuff when he was in school. My middle son, on the other hand, brought home some really tough stuff from his summer school class last month. I really struggled to help him. I had my college books, my college notes, store bought aids, and even a friend who is good at math all at my disposal, but nothing really helped. He squeaked by … just barely.

I want to go on record stating that I never really had a problem with basic math. Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division and other basics like finding percentages, figuring out mileage, counting money and making change and balancing checkbooks were all things I did well with. Those basic things are still taught in school today, yet it doesn’t seem to be something people are retaining.

Case in Point:

Normally, before work I would make a pot of coffee and bring a cup with me in the car on my way in. Today, I forgot to make some, so I drove through the local Tim Horton’s to get one. Most of the time, I would just hand the person at the window my debit card and the transaction would be complete. Today that was not the case.

They are usually pretty quick at Timmy’s, but something seemed to be slowing the line today. There were two cars ahead of me. I saw them pass an iced coffee to the first car and they drove off. The car in front of me tendered their money and the wait began. Almost five minutes later, a hand reached out with their change and then passed out a small coffee cup.

I wondered if the customer was waiting because they had to brew a new pot of coffee. Or maybe they were changing cashiers and they were switching out the till. It just seemed weird that it took that long to get a cup of coffee (or tea or hot chocolate for that matter.) When I got the the window, things became clear.

It was obvious that the gal at the window was a new employee and in training. She was having a discussion with the manager before she even opened the window. Directly to her right was my coffee. It was ready to be handed to me as soon as the money changed hands. I was paying cash, so it shouldn’t be too difficult, right?? Wrong.

When she finally opened the window, she told me that I owed $2.85. I order the same thing every time, so I had $3.00 ready and handed it to her. She typed into the register what I handed her and she placed the three $1 bills in the tray with the others and stopped. She stood staring at the till.

My change was 15 cents. For some reason this seemed to stump that gal at the window. She looked at the till, then at her manager. The window was open, so I could hear their conversation. The manager said, “He gave you three dollars. You owe him 15 cents.” She stood there looking stumped. The manager pointed to each one of the compartments at the bottom of the drawer saying, “There you have 25, 10, 5 and 1.”

Is real money such a new thing to this gal? Has she never seen a dime before? The whole thing was like something out of the Twilight Zone! The manager literally told her “give him a dime and a nickel.” She could have given me a dime and five pennies, two nickels and five pennies, three nickels, or 15 pennies – I didn’t even care if I got my change! Honestly, I would have drove off without the change if they had handed me the coffee!

Finally, this gal delicately grabbed a dime and a nickel and handed it to me with my receipt. She told me to have a good day and stared at me. She obviously wondered why I hadn’t left yet. Her manager said, “I’m sure he would like the coffee he just ordered.” I’m not sure how much longer she stared at me, but eventually, the manager grabbed my coffee and handed it to her and she finally passed it out the window to me.

As I drove off, I looked at the 4 cars that were behind me wondering how much longer each of them would have to wait. I also wondered what kind of grades this 30 something year old gal got in high school math class ….

Time Well Spent

Sometimes, you have to MAKE time. That is what I did the last time my boss asked for all of our “time off requests.” I chose one day a month and took it off to be sure that my wife and I get some “us” time. Last Friday, was the first of those days.

By the end of Wednesday night, I was ready to have that day off! Wednesday was a real mess. Everybody had really difficult patients. It was like someone deliberately put all of them on the same night to create the “Perfect Crapstorm!” I could hear Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy in 30 Rock’s fantastic line, “What is your contingency plan for a crapstorm of this magnitude?” running through my head all night.

Thursday, I came home and was able to get some sleep. I was up at my normal time, and about to get ready for work when I received a text message that there were patients who cancelled and it was my turn to stay home. I cannot even begin to tell you how overjoyed I was to have a bonus night off!

I told my wife that after dinner, we were going to get ice cream! It certainly was not on my diet, but all that mattered was that I was going to have the night with the family. We all packed into the car and went to a local ice cream place about 8 miles from us. I tried to get a family picture while we were there, but neither of the kids knew we were taking the picture …

It was a perfect night. It wasn’t too hot, but there was plenty of sunshine. One of the best moments of the evening was watching Ella willingly share her ice cream with Andrew. It was so sweet to watch.

Then came Friday. Knowing that we were planning on having dinner out somewhere, Sam and I began to discuss where to go to eat. Why is trying to decide where to eat such a chore for couples? It’s crazy. Sam said she’d be happy going to Applebee’s, which I really didn’t want to do. So we looked at the internet and our “lists.” We have a list of places that we would love to try and a list of places that we like. We decided to stay close to home and go to one of our favorite Mexican places.

Prior to us dating, we used to go to this place with one of our teachers. The food is excellent. Once we began dating, we’d go there often. Now, there is one close to our house and we eat there frequently. We dropped the kids off at Sam’s sister’s house and we went to the restaurant that was close to the college.

They brought us their homemade chips and salsa, which is something I should have avoided because of how many points the chips are on Weight Watchers, but I didn’t. Instead, I made the healthy choice of avoiding the chimichangas I usually order, and opted for the chicken fajita, which is basically all free. I ate loads of veggies and chicken. I avoided the tortilla shells and the sour cream. It was delicious.

I also did something I hadn’t done in some time – I had a beer. I made sure to get a light beer and I counted the points for it. While I enjoyed it, I realized that I really have not missed it. There was a time where I was drinking beer almost every night. It was emotionally driven and brought on by stress. Today, I don’t feel the need to drink at all. I’m happy with my coffee or water.

After dinner, Sam and I drove to Target and walked through the store. We were looking for a couple things, but mostly just browsing. We got a few ideas for the kids for Christmas and enjoyed just walking – with no real hurry to get stuff done. It was wonderful.

The time together was much needed. It was a perfect evening. Driving home to get the kids, we talked, held hands and just enjoyed “us.” I am already looking forward to next month’s date day!!

Bad Coffee?

I’ve been drinking coffee for a long time. I have gotten to the point where I know which brands I like and which ones I don’t. I very rarely stray from them when I am home.

While I tend to prefer certain flavored coffees, when it comes to just plain coffee, I get Tim Hortons. At our Sam’s Club I can get a big bag for what it costs for a small bag in the store.

Last time we went, I bought two bags. I have a container I store it in that seals up tight, so it stays fresh. I poured them both in the container one bag on top of the other.

Yesterday, we reached the half way point of the container. So, I’m guessing we are hitting the first of the two bags. Something suddenly tasted different.

I’m not sure what it is, but it is almost like the coffee is extra weak. I made a second pot with more scoops wondering if that would help, but it didn’t. It still tastes weak.

We bought new coffee filters, and I thought it might be those. So I brewed a pot with the old filters. It still tasted the same. The only thing I can think of is that it was a bum bag of coffee.

Is that a thing? I mean, I’ve been buying it for years and this is the first time it has tasted funny. Bad beans? I don’t know.

We have to do some shopping this week. I may have to buy a flavored coffee and brew a pot just to be sure it isn’t the pot itself.

In the meantime, I need coffee and it is the only stuff in the house. So I suppose I will be stuck with it for another day or so ..

Too early …

They are doing a big upgrade at work this week. Because of that, I’m on days for part of the week. In order to be here at 6am, I had to get up at 3am. I haven’t done that since I did a morning radio show on a daily basis!! At least when I did mornings, I only worked 15 minutes away. The hour and ten minute drive … in the dark … is very difficult to do!

Not only are you fighting to stay awake with a cup of coffee, windows down, and radio blaring, but it is the time of year when car/deer accidents are on the rise. Yesterday morning, I saw 3-4 deer just hanging out on the side of the road. I was just waiting for one to jump out in front of me. This morning on my way in, there were two places on the road where the remnants of some sort of animal got creamed by a car.

I’m back on nights tomorrow night, so I’ll have to switch back to midnight mode. I have a feeling that come Saturday, I’m going to be exhausted!

Darkness and a Laugh

Normally, I sleep until about 4 or 4:30 in the afternoon on work days. I was pretty exhausted when I got home this morning, so I was looking forward to a good sleep. That didn’t happen.

I have sleep apnea. I sleep with a CPAP machine. With it on, my apnea issues are resolved and I sleep through the night (or day). I was abruptly awakened this afternoon around 2:00pm. I didn’t quite know what happened and then realized that my CPAP was not on. I reached over to turn on the light – nothing. No display on the CPAP, either. The power was out.

Sam had come in about 1pm to nap while Ella napped. The baby monitor, which she had turned on when she came in was now beeping because it lost the connection to the camera. The camera runs on electricity, while the monitor has a battery. So, now we were both up. I tried to go back to sleep, but my apnea would wake me up the minute I fell asleep.

Eventually Ella woke up and I went in to get her. Naturally, for the next couple hours I was reminded of all the things we just take for granted. There were no lights in the bathroom, so I had to shower by the lantern light before work. Our oven/stove is electric, so the dinner we planned on having didn’t happen. We ended up grabbing drive thru. Worst of all, no power to the coffee pot. I had to drive through Tim Horton’s on my way to work, because I needed my coffee!

No power meant no TV, which was actually very nice. Ella was in such a fun mood when she woke up. We read books, played peak a boo, and goofed around with toys and such. One on one time with our kids without the distraction of modern technology is actually a good thing.

Sam called around 8pm to say that the power had finally come back on. I was glad to hear that because I’m not sure Ella would have fallen asleep without her sound machine on. Not only that, it is supposed to get cold tonight and that would mean no heat. It was still a bit windy tonight, so fingers are crossed that the power remains on through the night.

Funny Story From The Weekend

I neglected to include this story in the Weekend Review Blog from yesterday. As we get closer to the baby’s arrival, we’ve come to realize how NOT ready we are. One of the things we did on Saturday was build his swing. Our living room is basically THE room in our house. When we built Ella’s room, we lost our dining room, so the kitchen table when out in the living room. As we gathered more and more stuff for Ella, the table went to the basement.

So Saturday, we are looking at all the stuff we brought back up for the baby. We have the pack and play, the swing, the furniture that was already in the room, and of course, all of Ella’s stuff. Sam and I stood in the middle of the room deciding just how to rearrange everything to make it all fit. We tossed around a few ideas and eventually moved things to where we have as much space as we can, and still have room for everything. (I still think the ottoman is going to end up back in the basement.)

We crawled into bed that night just exhausted from moving everything around. I turned out the light and laid down. The only sound in the room was the sound of the music from Ella’s room coming from the baby monitor. As I feel my self beginning to doze, in true Sam fashion, she turns to me and says, “You know what I just thought about?! Where in the world are we going to put the Christmas tree this year?!?”

Coffee Sweetness

The Old Favorite

A couple years ago, I blogged about my favorite holiday coffee blend. The Coffee Beanery has a seasonal coffee that comes out right around Thanksgiving that I absolutely love called Cinnamon Holiday Blend.

I usually try to buy a few bags throughout the holiday season and get enough so that I can brew a pot every couple weeks as a treat to myself. I buy the whole bean and grind it before I make it, which keeps it fairly fresh.

A Year Long Delight

I recently tried a blend from a local coffee company that is available all year and it is just amazing. I brought a bag to work and a co-worker commented that it was like “drinking dessert!” I would tend to agree with him. It’s appropriately called Cinnamon Sticky Bun, and it tastes like a cinnamon roll.

The name of the place is a play on the names of the children mentioned in the Daniel Chapter 3 in the Bible. It is called “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abeantogo.” They have two Michigan locations – one in Lake Orion and one in Goodrich. I pass by the Goodrich location on my way home from work and try to stop in and grab a bag of deliciousness.

They deliver if you would like to try it:

https://www.abeantogo.com/

A Coffee You Can’t Refuse

A friend of mine messaged me and told me that she saw a coffee that was “totally” me. As I mentioned in a previous blog, she was familiar with my love of coffee and the Godfather movies. She bought it and sent it to my house. The flavor was Holy Cannoli.

I finally had the chance to brew a pot of this over the weekend and it was just delicious. It truly tasted like a cannoli. If you use flavored creamer, I recommend the Italian Sweet Cream creamer for all of these coffees! I was familiar with Bones Coffee Company, but had never had it, before. After looking at their website, they have a lot of flavors, and I may have to go out of my way to try some others.

You can buy yours here:

https://www.bonescoffee.com/

Cheers!!

Hurry, Spring!

After the HUGE dumping of snow we got a week or so ago, in typical Michigan fashion, we’ve had some warm weather recently. Most of the snow has melted away. The other day, we actually went to the store and didn’t have to wear a coat!

Walking in Sunshine!

We have a small house. Ella looks forward to car rides and just getting out of the house. Today, while I napped before work, Sam took her out for a walk. She was going to put her in the stroller, but now that she is walking, that is what she wanted to do!

It took her a minute to realize she was free to walk around, but when she did, she was off like a rocket!

When I woke up for work, I took her out for a walk, too! She was a bit more tired by the time I took her, so she was a little less cooperative. At one point, she lost her glove. She cracked me up because when it came off, she stared at it on the sidewalk for a few minutes….

…and when it didn’t miraculously go back on her hand, she stared at me like “Are you gonna help me?” “This thing ain’t gonna put itself back on, Daddy!”

She isn’t quite yet to the point where she will walk and hold our hand. I am really looking forward to that and more walks this spring and summer!

Coming soon!

One of the things I have had on my “to blog” list is one word: “Beatles.” As a fan of the Beatles, I have wondered just what I want to write about, their solo stuff, the early stuff, the later stuff, a list of my favorite Beatles songs…I just haven’t been able to decide. The first blog here about the Beatles will be presented by my blogging buddy, Max, who is quite the Beatles fan as well. I’m excited to announce that his guest blog should be making an appearance here in a week or so. I’m looking forward to it and am sure you will enjoy it!

A Brew You Can’t Refuse?

A friend of mine saw this coffee online, and knowing that I love the Godfather movies and coffee, she ordered me a bag of this and sent it to my house. I’m excited to try it. It has “cannoli”in the name of it ….It has to be good, right?